Why You No Review Leigh Brackett?!

Wednesday , 11, January 2017 8 Comments

Top book blogger Hooc Ott crashes yet another safe space in the comments on a post entitled pre- Le Guin SF Short Fic Reviews over at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations blog. It turns out that, yes, being a fan of one of science fiction’s most beloved pulp authors is in fact triggering to certain strains of geekdom:

Hooc Ott: No Leigh Brackett? Her absence from the review list is more [than] massively conspicuous.

From couch to moon: I can’t speak for the other reviewers in the series, but in my mind, Leigh Brackett is too well-known for this series, thanks to her SF Masterworks status. I’ll assume most of us have read Leigh Brackett, have greatly enjoyed The Long Tomorrow, and are also repelled by the childish pulpiness of most of her short fiction. Personally, I was aiming for writers I haven’t explored yet, who were writing complex, ahead-of-their-time fiction, while others probably wanted to highlight less-celebrated writers, and others still wanted to highlight a particular under-explored niche of SF.

Also, and this is just a warning: “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU LEFT OFF MY FAVORITE” often sounds like, “I HAVE NOTHING OF VALUE TO CONTRIBUTE ABOUT THE OTHER AUTHORS IN THIS POST BECAUSE I HAVEN’T READ THEM, BUT I WANT TO PROVE MY SCIFI SUPERIORITY AND UNDERMINE YOUR SELECTIONS BY INSINUATING THAT I THINK YOU HAVEN’T READ ENOUGH SCIFI” which also sounds like “I AM A CHILD AND I LIKE TO READ SCIFI WRITTEN FOR CHILDREN AND THIS MAKES ME MORE SCIFI THAN YOU NAH NAH NAH BOO BOO.”

Not that *I* interpret it that way, but you might want to know how it looks.

Now, there’s so much wrong here it’s hard to know where to begin.

  1. The target audience of Leigh Brackett’s stories were not children, but rather a very broad audience that was mainly made up of adults. (Hint: go read her fan mail from the letter column in Planet Stories. Does that sound like a bunch of twelve year olds to you…?)
  2. Most people are not repelled by “the childish pulpiness” of her short fiction. After all, her stories aren’t that different from the script work she did for Empire Strikes Back. The story beats she contributed to that film are a big part of what made it the most beloved installment of the franchise. The reason for this is that human nature has not changed in the time since Leigh Brackett was first blown away by The Gods of Mars.
  3. Also, I hate to break it to you, but Leigh Brackett has lapsed so far into obscurity at this point that most journalists don’t even know that she even made any significant contributions to Empire. She can certainly stand for a little more celebration at this point.

Oh, and one more thing since you mention it: Ursula Le Guinn was not the real watershed moment of science fiction and fantasy. If you’re looking for a significant turning point, it makes more sense to think in terms of before and after Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.

Just sayin’.

8 Comments
  • Blume says:

    Seems to be retracted now. I am kind of sad.

    • Rawle Nyanzi says:

      I just tweeted an archive link to the article. Check my Twitter on @RawleNyanziFTL; I would post the link here, but the side won’t let me, probably as an anti-spam measure.

      • Hooc Ott says:

        http://archive.is/2kaml

        Regrettably her reply comment to my last comment didn’t make the archive cut.

        Swear to god she was hate flirting with me in it.

        Something about how she was hoping for me to blow her socks off after she called me a child 3+ times rather [than] use the words “straw man”

        Combined with her flustered vacillating tone of her first two comments and that weird jab about “what would other people think…oh lord the vapors” it really stuck me as the soured vanity only a socially inept desperate woman could express.

        In the comments Joachim (who is the lead of this whole thing) gives a less emotional response to why Brackett was unrepresented.

        “Joachim Boaz says:
        January 1, 2017 at 7:25 pm
        My intention was for various reviewers I admire to pick stories that their favorites or ones that really spoke to them. It was in no way intended to be a survey of women SF authors pre-1969. I recommend Ian Sales’ list of the 100 best short stories by women authors. Brackett has a prominent position.

        https://iansales.com/2013/07/10/the-list-100-great-science-fiction-stories-by-women/

        Interesting that Brackett didn’t “speak” to any of the reviewers.

        Heroines and Villainesses (especially the villainesses who *gasp* might demonstrate the ills of unrestrained vanity) who act and think like real women as written by a woman are SJW’s Bane.

  • cirsova says:

    Y’know, I feel like if she’d left it at that first comment, it would not have come across nearly so bad.

    It’s like “::rational response with some points which are debatable::” and then she torpedoed herself.

  • Hooc Ott says:

    She is not wrong…

    Well Ok she is wrong on just about every fact one can pick from her screeching but the spirit I think she gets right.

    She is fighting, who and what for she makes more then a little opaque sure, but that is war she is doing there.

    Her target is correct. The target being me. but i think that is by accident. The tell is that she calls me a child and worries how it might look to others. Bullets like that do not bounce off anon shitlords, they pass right through.

    I think she thought I was a random Brackett fan who made some mild snark in her safe space. If that is the case her target is ill chosen. Just contrast how people new and old are treated here or by the various blogs authors and critics that circle Castalia. The difference is night and day. she ain’t defending let alone building anything that way. Only destruction.

    Anyway I personally aspire to be what she tried to be here. So I can’t fault her for that. The faults are her tactics, targets indiscriminate flailing and side she chose.

    Her other target, Brackett, is also a huge mistake, but i think that might be baked in with her side of the culture wars. She has to diminish, memory hole and otherwise destroy Leigh Brackett because Brackett is a threat.

    The question I have is what exactly is the nuts and bolts of that threat.

    My current theory is that Brackett wrote real blood and bone women into her stories. They thought acted and desired like women in the real world do which IS distinct from men.

    The contrast are the women protagonists found in works like twilight or mockingbird. Basically shells for the reader (women) to fill for themselves. Thus giving the illusion that the characters are real women. The problem being that the actual character in the story can do no wrong. If the author makes the main lady guilty or has her really fail then the illusion will be broken. The reader will make herself apart from the character portrayed and therefor judge her truthfully as hollow and one dimensional.

    Ignoring the “men and women are different” and “there are only two genders” aspects, the feminists/sjws cannot abide real women with real failings and/or real virtues coming back into vogue within pop literature. Their whole program depends on the unrestrained and soured vanity of women. If girls and women started consciously examining the virtues of Brackett’s heroines and vices of her villainesses their whole program crumbles to dust.

    • cirsova says:

      “My current theory is that Brackett wrote real blood and bone women into her stories. They thought acted and desired like women in the real world do which IS distinct from men.”

      That’s pretty much the thesis I stumbled onto by the end of my reviews of her Stark stories here; the similarities between the title characters (femme fatale) and secondary female characters (waif who helps the hero) are largely superficial – she’s actually constructed some pretty complex character studies of very different women.

  • John E. Boyle says:

    How did I miss this thread?

    Brackett is one of my favorites, so I know that I’m not impartial when I write about her. But she really was GOOD; she influenced and was influenced by not only her husband Edmond Hamilton, but also C.L. Moore and her husband Henry Kuttner (they were friends and would often vacation together). She worked with William Faulkner on the Big Sleep and collaborated with Howard Hawks for 25 years. I wonder if Brackett might not have been one of the best writers we’ve had in SF/F in the past century.

    Her female characters are not 2-dimensional, and are not the same character over and over. As you say, they are real women with real virtues and real failings; they’re the type of women that drive the SJWs nuts.

    No wonder they start stammering and try to change the subject whenever Brackett is brought up.

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